Rock Hall and CWRU team up to honor New Orleans legends

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courtesy nola.com

Dave Bartholomew, left, with Fats Domino, taken in 1999. The two musicians are arguably the earliest duo to stake a significant claim in rock and roll history, and are being honored this week for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum’s 15th American Music Masters Series.

Rachel Hunt, Assistant A&E Editor

There is something about the jive of New Orleans’ music that you can’t quite put your finger on… you have to put your toes, hips, and hands all over it and shake them to the beat instead.

Many of the musical greats from the region completely pre-dated rock and roll and instead made the genre from scratch by playing what they recognized as rhythm and blues. They were able to integrate dance floors filled with young people through their music and influence a long list of their contemporaries from Bob Marley to Elton John, The Beatles, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

It is hard to encapsulate the spirit of such a vivacious genre with such head-and-heart strong musicians, however the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has chosen this month as a great time to try during their celebration “Walking to New Orleans”. “This is the week!” says Dr. Lauren Onkey, Vice President of Education and Public Programs at the Rock Hall. “We’re really laying out the story of Mr. Domino and Mr. Bartholomew.”

From Nov. 8 through 13, The American Masters Series at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will honor Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, two of the New Orleans greats, by dedicating a week of educational opportunities, community outreach programs, a music conference, and a tribute concert to them.

Domino and Bartholomew are one of the most significant musical duos in the history of rock and roll. They released their first recorded album, Fat Man in 1949, mastered at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studios in New Orleans. Domino’s dynamic piano and voice mixed perfectly with the trumpeting and business savvy of Bartholomew; many claim that it seems the duo was brought together by divine intervention.

“There is no, no, no place like New Orleans for music,” Bartholomew once said. “The pioneers are here. We built the house. You can redecorate it, but we laid the foundation.” The Rock Hall is partnering with Case Western Reserve University to bring the New Orleans experience to Clevelanders. The music conference on Saturday will be held at the Wolstein Research Building on campus starting at 9 a.m. and is free to all CWRU students; tickets are $30 for the public. Dave Bartholomew and Lloyd Price as well as musicians Billy Diamond, Ernest McLean, Eddie Ray of Empirical Records, and other New Orleans historians will be there to answer questions and tell their story.

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“(All of our events) will just be really interesting and fun, with material you just can’t see anywhere else. All of this gets recorded and will live on in our library and archives. Part of what we’re doing is really trying to curate the story of Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, their role in the birth of rock and roll for folks way down the line that want to know more about this,” says Onkey.

By attending the conference, those who know nothing and seasoned New Orleans veterans will be able to see footage and talk to the greats as they could not do anywhere else. A real Cajun feast will even be served for lunch, included with admission.

After the conference, a tribute concert is scheduled to take place at the Palace Theatre, part of Playhouse Square. This is the 15th annual American Masters Series concert and commemorates for the first time two separate musicians that shared an important partnership with one another. Dave Bartholomew himself, Lloyd Price, Dr. John and the Lower 9-11, Theresa Andersson, James Andrews, Amadee Castenell, Jon Cleary, The Dixie Cups, and Robert Parker will perform among others. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and rocks all night long. Tickets start at $30.

Free events supporting the event have been happening at the Rock Hall all week long for free, including screenings of never before seen live footage from Domino and Bartholomew’s past shows together. HBO even released some unused footage to the Rock Hall for the event that will live on in the Rock Hall’s music archives. Many of the multi-media programs were based on the stars of the American Masters Series, but other educational opportunities featured saxophonists and even discussed the musical scene in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

This is an opportunity to experience the living history of music and rock and roll right in our own backyard. Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew were two of the forerunners of a music genre that changed the course of a genre forever. Flamboyant and stunning, these masters belted out soulful rhythm and blues drenched in the swagger of New Orleans. Experience history the best way that Cleveland and New Orleans knows how, through the power of music.